Ethiopian is one of those cuisines that seems to have been on the verge of breaking into the mainstream for decades. There are a few fairly low key restaurants dotted around the UK but the best by far seem to be in London. Manchester has a mediocre cafe stuck rather surreally on the corner of the gay village and Birmingham has the spectacularly unimpressive Blue Nile. (Points deducted for removing all seasoning whatsoever in case I had a fit of the English and dropped dead at the sight of a spice)
There used to be a place on the Walworth Road, I absolutely loved it but it was slightly marred by the fact that I visited four times, with four separate people who all broke with severe food poisoning hours later. Obviously a bit of a date killer.
Zeret is also off the Walworth Road, further down towards Camberwell in one of those South London enclaves packed with optimistically named West African churches.
We eventually located Zeret somewhere between the Ministry of Divine Basset Hounds and the Assembly of Glorious Flying Hamsters in a nondescript row of grotty shops.
Once inside the restaurant is an oasis of calm, quiet instrumental music plays and it's relaxed, casual, laid back. I was falling asleep, eight hours on a coach home plus a few strong cocktails with Jordan and his expensive pointy blue shoes (Hidden bar near Spitalfields, you enter through a fridge door and climb down to a basement
We ordered a bottle of Tej (Ethiopian honey wine), usually it comes in a gourd but this appeared in a bottle, closely followed by a huge platter wearing what appeared to be a sombrero.
We waited and a few minutes later my Quantir Firfir appeared and was plonked unceremoniously onto the spongy pancake. I'm glad she told us to hang on. If you've read Every Han for Himself you'll recall that in Dadong (or was it Quanjude) I'd eaten the pancake before the dressing gown clad waitress returned with the duck.
We tucked in and I almost fell off my seat. Perhaps the Blue Nile had a point....
But it was good! Really good. Cubes of dried meat in a hot sauce with fried injera (to complement the non fried injera...Ethiopians love their injera)
Amongst the flames and sweat pouring off me, Jordan tried a bit of the sauce.
His expensive pointy blue shoes caught fire.
The waitress ambled back with a basket of fresh injera. I mentioned I'm going to Ethiopia next week. She smiled, not a clue what the hell I was on about.
As in all Ethiopian places I've experienced so far the bill was reasonable. Incredibly so.
Two huge platters of food, 2 soft drinks and a large bottle of Tej=£40.